Donny Baseball will be the skipper of the Miami Marlins through the 2021 season.
As someone who covers the team for FanSided’s Marlin Maniac, it’s a bit harder for me to see the job Mattingly has done the past four seasons and see progress from the moment he was originally introduced as the team’s new skipper in 2016.
Four short seasons ago, there was hope this team had found the right man to get them back to the playoffs, to build more chemistry amongst the players on the roster and juggle a pitching staff which had Jose Fernandez and a bunch of question marks.
Mattingly will have managed two of the worst seasons in franchise history in 2018 and 2019 and has been rewarded for being part of the organization’s quest to take a broken down franchise and attempting to build it back up like the Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, and Atlanta Braves.
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"“Donnie believes in our vision,” Marlins chief executive officer Derek Jeter said at a news conference at Marlins Park. “He believes in our direction, and he’s all in. He has shown a lot of patience with our young, developing team.”"
There is no rocket science in this decision. Mattingly appeared to be a man without a baseball team to call his own as he entered the 2019 season, lost in the shuffle of new faces trying to get their feet wet in the Majors. The ownership group led by Derek Jeter has made changes to the minor league system, praying to baseball gods their plan will work.
Ironically as the New York Yankees once again lay claim to another playoff berth this season, Jeter’s new baseball team has missed out on the postseason every year since 2003.
It’s a tough pill to swallow for Marlins fans and the baseball community in South Florida.
The Marlins are banking on the idea of continuity to get over the hump of perpetual losing after making trades this past offseason, restocking the outfield in the MLB Draft and making more deals at the MLB Trade Deadline to assemble a top-5 minor league system that is pitching heavy with a solid nucleus of developing power.
Even in the press conference, the idea was never lost on the organization that it has been Mattingly that has helped weather this uneven and rocky storm the franchise is going through at the moment.
"“The last [meeting] we had was kind of like ‘Jerry Maguire,’” Mattingly said. “He kind of had me at, ‘Hello.’ From the standpoint of showing that he believed in me and felt like I was the right guy for this job.”"
Unless there is some miracle, the Marlins will hover around one of their worst seasons in terms of record. But there is a brighter future out there. The front office wants to see if Mattingly can finally help the young core of players can break through to the other side.
If not, the team will face no other option but to fire the most tenured manager in history. Jeter and his staff believe it is a gamble well worth taking.